Chile’s Valle Nevado ski resort rolls out early-bird special

chile skiingDedicated pow hounds tend to hightail it to the Southern Hemisphere once summer rears its sunny head. Chile is justly famous for its snow, as well as its lack of crowds, above-timberline terrain, and epic backcountry and vertical accessible via heli-skiing.

Valle Nevado, located 20 miles east of Santiago, is already the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. This year, during its June 22-October 2nd winter season, it has even more enticements to offer.

North American and UK guests who book and pay before March 31st, 2012, will receive up to 50% off a season-long package that includes a seven-night stay at any of Valle Nevado’s three hotels (which range from high-end to budget), and two interconnect tickets for the neighboring resorts of La Parva and El Colorado, which opens 7,400 acres of skiable terrain (that’s more than Vail, for you ski and snowboard die-hards).

The promotion also includes 25% off equipment rental, a complimentary 30-minute massage, and free attendance at the weekly Thursday Wine Festival. Look for forthcoming announcements on heli-skiing packages, as well. To book, call 1-800-669-0554 from the U.S., or email reservas@vallenevado.com.

Tips for Powder Skiing

Turn your Utah-bound boarding pass into a ski lift ticket

Your Utah boarding pass can score you some free ski lift tickets!Spring may have officially arrived, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in a few more days on the slopes before the ski season ends for another year. To help facilitate that, three Utah ski resorts are offering a deal that will let you exchange your boarding pass for a lift ticket instead.

Beginning this Sunday, March 27th and running through the end of the season, any out-of-state visitor who brings their boarding pass from Salt Lake City International Airport to one of the participating Park City resorts will receive a free lift ticket for that day. This gives visitors the option to ski or snowboard at The Canyons or Park City Mountain, or ski at Deer Valley. (Sorry snowboarders, you’re still not welcome there!)

As with all good things in life, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. For example, you must register for the free passes in advance of your arrival, and the date of redemption must match the date on the boarding pass. That means you better catch an early flight to take true advantage of this deal. An ID is required to redeem the pass as well and Utah residents are not eligible. To see all the rules and regulations check out the website for the promotion here.

This isn’t a bad deal for someone looking to get a little last minute skiing or snowboarding in before they put their gear back in the closet for the summer. You’ll want to hurry to take advantage of the promotion however, as both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley close for the season on April 10 and The Canyons follow suit on April 17.

How to find affordable ski deals this winter

ski dealsSkiing isn’t the most budget-friendly winter activity, but you can find affordable ski deals if you know when and where to book lift tickets.

Evan Reece, co-founder of Liftopia.com, reveals how to save on lift tickets at popular ski resorts around the U.S.

Buy lift tickets in advance and pick your days carefully.
If you buy a lift ticket through Liftopia at least the day before you plan to ski, you can typically save an average of 35 percent when compared to booking a one-day pass in person at the ticket window. Mid-week lift tickets are generally cheaper, and skiing on Sundays typically costs less than Saturdays. “Many customers will go up for the weekend and intend to ski both days, Reece says. “But they’ll end up being tired on Sunday. And faced with a four-hour drive, they’ll just say, ‘Let’s go.'”

Ski on Christmas Day.
When everyone else is preoccupied with opening gifts on Christmas morning, hit the ski slopes and save. Based on last year’s data, the average price of all lift tickets booked in advance through Liftopia for Christmas Day skiing was 39.7 percent less than what you’d pay at the window, Reece says. Other bargain days include New Year’s Day, Jan. 2, and Super Bowl Sunday.Seek out smaller ski resorts.
Rather than following the crowds to Breckenridge or Vail, venture to smaller ski resorts for a more intimate experience. Though you may sacrifice the big-name glitz and apres-ski scene, let’s face it: most of us aren’t skilled enough to take advantage of all the ski runs to justify an $80 lift ticket.

Look into combo passes with added value.
Some resorts, such as Keystone in Colorado, add in meal credits with the purchase of a lift ticket. For example, a one-day lift ticket plus a $15 lunch credit bought through Liftopia will save you about 11 percent when compared to buying the same package on-mountain. Even the resort food will taste better than “eating a smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Reece adds.

Consider packages that bundle ski rentals and lift tickets.
Other than saving on checked baggage fees, many resorts now carry top-of-the-line rentals that are most likely newer and better than anything you have stashed in the garage.

How Liftopia Works: Tickets purchased through Liftopia are nontransferable, nonrefundable, and date specific. Or as Reece explains it: “You can’t buy a Friday concert ticket and expect to show up the next day.”

[Photo by Amy Chen]

Tahoe gets 8 feet of snow in time for Thanksgiving weekend

tahoe gets 8 feet of snowThanksgiving weekend is often considered the unofficial start to ski season. Sure, plenty of resorts open up well before the holiday, but with lots of people traveling across the country this weekend, many will head to the slopes on the post-turkey day weekend for a little early-winter fun.

Those going in search of spectacular snow over the next few days should look no further than the Lake Tahoe region, where early season storms have already dumped more than 8 feet of of the white stuff on local resorts. Recent weather patterns have been more reminiscent of those that occur in late December, and as a result, conditions on the slopes are more like mid-winter than mid-fall.

The long range forecasts indicate that this early season snow isn’t likely to be an anomaly either. In fact, the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains are expecting to get higher than normal snow falls again this year, perhaps even topping last season’s 600 inches. That should earn Lake Tahoe a spot on any skier or snowboarders destination list in the months ahead.

With all this snow in the forecast, the Sierra at Tahoe resort is expecting plenty of visitors this year. But they are also trying to make it as easy as possible for beginners to join in on the outdoor fun too. With that in mind, they will be offering a Learn to Ski/Ride Package for new skiers and boarders. The package is available December 18 – January 1, January 15-17, and February 21-27, and includes a limited access lift ticket for the beginner park, all of your gear rental, and a 2.5 hour first-time lesson, for just $35.

For other great deals and options for skiing the Tahoe region, check out SkiLakeTahoe.com.

[Photo credit: Charles J Sharp via WikiMedia]

Aspen’s St. Moritz Lodge rolls back room prices to $69/night

Snow enthusiasts salivating over last week’s dump in the Colorado Rockies, don’t despair. A fall vacation in Aspen is affordable thanks to the St. Moritz Lodge’s “Roll Back Our Rates to 2006 Levels” promo.

Starting now through November 24th, get a low-season rate of $69/night for a standard Lodge room (double bed, twin, mini-fridge, TV, and private bath). If you’re a returning guest, call 800-817-2069 and receive a 10% discount. Early winter and spring ski season is still a screaming deal if you’re traveling with a friend or two, with standard Lodge rooms going for $99/night. It’s Aspen’s only hostel, and thus the best accomodation bargain in town.

Enjoy an outdoor heated pool and hot tub (summer/winter only), steam room, daily housekeeping, laundry, a well-equipped kitchen, free Wifi, coffee, and deluxe Continental breakfast, and a cozy lounge/TV room/library, and off-street parking.

The St. Mortiz is just 10 minutes walking from the hopping scene in the center of town and the Silver Queen Gondola, spitting distance from a handful of trailheads. Even if you don’t ski, take advantage of the gorgeous running paths and hiking/snowshoeing trails for free.

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Need more incentive? United and Frontier just announced they are increasing their flights into Aspen. In addition to the 14 to 17 flights per day from Denver International Airport (DIA), there are more direct flights from San Francisco, Los Angles and Chicago, and the newly added Houston-to-Aspen route. Delta and American Airlines serve Eagle County Regional Airport, an hour-and-half-away (FYI, this is the closest airport to Vail, 30 miles away). Colorado Mountain Express has shuttle service to/from DIA to Vail, Eagle, and Aspen, as well as Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek, and Snowmass.